Questions for the Stream Enterers

Pavel _, modified 12 Years ago at 2/10/10 8:19 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 2/10/10 8:19 AM

Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
There seems to be a quickly growing number of stream enterers on this site so I thought that it would be a good idea to get some further information on how this has affected their practice. Everyone agrees on the positive psychological effects and general perceptual improvements but there is a number of other, more technical considerations that I would like to explore. If those of you who have attained to stream entry wouldn't mind answering a couple of short questions I think that it could be of great benefit to all of us here. The prime reason being that most of the accounts that I have read on this topic have been written by people who were anagamis/arahats.

1) how did you experience fruition? - is there a way to describe it?
2) have you had repeat fruitions since? - either on or off the cushion?
3) do you noticeably cycle through the stages? - either on or off the cushion? (How long does it take you to cycle through the whole thing?)
4) do you have the ability to access the various stages at will (through practice)?
5) how quickly can you access the first jhana?

If there are any other interesting questions that you can think of, by all means don't be shy and add them to the list.
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Nikolai , modified 12 Years ago at 2/10/10 6:20 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 2/10/10 10:50 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
1) how did you experience fruition? - is there a way to describe it?

My first experience was obviously the path moment when I had arrived at a state where the "I" was being observed for what it was. Just the sum of sensations that where arising and passing away, dancing about creating the illusion of a self. This alone didn't seem to do the trick. As soon as the three characteristics where dwelled on in this experience of subject and object becoming one and there being only object, that is when I experienced it first and entered the stream so to speak.
When I remember it, it was like the words themselves drifted through the mind. First there was anatta, not-self. It was so clear that these sensations where just that,sensations only. There was no "I" there, so substanceless. Then the word anicca drifted by directly after. Impermanence! All these sensations are just dancing about arising and disappearing as soon as they'd arisen. Then when those two characteristics where dwelled on it made perfect sense......dukkha!!!! Non-satisfactoriness /suffering....that is why there is so much suffering...it made so much sense and as soon as that was dwelled on.....there was a sensation of something about to happen...a sensation of being pulled up on the crown slightly and then a moment of something...I refer to it as a conk out but that might be too descriptive...a blip out maybe is better. Then the mind, which is now the calmest it's ever been seems to stall for a second or two. Someone has explained it as feeling like the rebooting of a computer and that is how it feels. A second or two of this and then the mind is kind of back as it was before and then a bliss wave hits you. Initially the bliss wave was intense and had an amazing Wow factor but these days it feels so normal and although it feels very cooling and refreshing for the mind there is no wow factor to it. Very normal and mundane.


2) have you had repeat fruitions since? - either on or off the cushion?

Yes. Right after the first time I had a period of a week where I was reviewing everything. Especially how I did it. How I got there. It was very automatic. I discovered I could control the cycles and will myself to have a fruition. I could also call up a fruituion that seems independent of a cycle. One method which I learnt from Kenneth Folk, is the eye lid flicker. You observe the sensations of flickering and the pay attention to the last flicker when the sensation ends. Then a fruition occurs.

I also discovered there are three doors to the fruition. These are the three characteristics. So depending on which characteristic you are observing in a phenomena of the body or mind then that characteristic will influence the way you enter the fruition. The dukkha one was like the one I explained above. It was the last characteristic which was dwelled on. It is like a slight pulling up on the crown and then cessation and then release and bliss wave. The annica one for me more like the term "conk out" There is a slight build up of sensations ont he crown and then cessation and the head jerks slightly. Theses days it is smoother but was really obvious when it first happened. The anatta one is smoother and sometimes I miss it. These days they are much smoother experiences and sometimes if I am not paying attention, I miss them only realizing that it happened because of the bliss wave after.

If I observed the touch of breath on the nostrils for example and was aware of the anicca charactersitic of the sensations there, when it ended I would get an anicca door fruition. if I was observing the anatta charactersitic of a phenomena I would get a fruition through that door and the same for the dukkha door.

Initially the cycles occurred quite a lot during the couple of weeks after it happened maybe 5 to 20 per day and sometimes more. Now they are slow moving and sometimes I don't get a fruition for days. I think this maybe because I am passed the review phase and moving to the next path. But I can call up a fruition through the ways i described above which seem independent of a cycle. There seem to be cycles within cycle within cycles and it gets hard to describe.

So yeh, I can get them off cushion and on cushion. More off cushion than on. In fact if I just will the mind to give me for example 5 fruitions through the anicca door in succession it will happen right away. This "will of mind thing" is amazing! So fast and powerful.

3) do you noticeably cycle through the stages? - either on or off the cushion? (How long does it take you to cycle through the whole thing?)

Yes, I know where I am all day long. For me though it is more physical. That is the physical sensations are more predominant then any psychological component. This I gather is from my years in the Goenka/Uba Khin method of vipassana, which focuses on bare awareness of sensations. No noting. For example, at the moment I have a mass of pressure at the crown chakra and I am definitely in the equanimity of formations stage. Although I seem not to be getting any fruitions as of late. I think I am headed to the next path.



4) do you have the ability to access the various stages at will (through practice)?

Yes. Whenever I want, I can access any stage by will of mind alone.


5) how quickly can you access the first jhana?

Frighteningly fast. But I consider myself 2nd path now without much doubt. Even when 1st path, the access to the jhanas was unreal. Just by will of mind alone. The mind is a 1000 times more powerful in regards to concentration.

I gotta go do some chores at the moment but will answer any other questions.


Edited for spelling and extra info.
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Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 4:07 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 3:46 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
Good question, very helpful answer.
I'm going through the different stuff in stream entry now, thinking ahead to my retreat at the end of this year. So I wont deceive myself into thinking I've experienced it. Sounds really obvious, and unmistakeable, unlikely I''l trick myself into thinking I've attained that without actually experiencing it. Thanks.

I came across this stuff after, a little confused-

RE: link to the reformed slacker's guide to stream entry
1/13/10 3:54 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
I ask that because it seems (just reading the threads here and in KFD) that before Stream Entry a lot of things could go unnoticed (lower nanas 1-3, A&P Event, even Fruitions).


I'm confused, I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the follow stages up to arharatship ? Someone else said something along the line of what your saying, Could someone clarify.

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers
2/10/10 6:20 PM as a reply to Pavel O..

2) have you had repeat fruitions since? - either on or off the cushion?

Yes. Right after the first time I had a period of a week where I was reviewing everything. Especially how I did it. How I got there. It was very automatic. I discovered I could control the cycles and will myself to have a fruition. I could also call up a fruituion that seems independent of a cycle. One method which I learnt from Kenneth Folk, is the eye lid flicker. You observe the sensations of flickering and the pay attention to the last flicker when the sensation ends. Then a fruition occurs.

I also discovered there are three doors to the fruition. These are the three characteristics. So depending on which characteristic you are observing in a phenomena of the body or mind then that characteristic will influence the way you enter the fruition. The dukkha one was like the one I explained above. It was the last characteristic which was dwelled on. It is like a slight pulling up on the crown and then cessation and then release and bliss wave. The annica one for me more like the term "conk out" There is a slight build up of sensations ont he crown and then cessation and the head jerks slightly. Theses days it is smoother but was really obvious when it first happened. The anatta one is smoother and sometimes I miss it. These days they are much smoother experiences and sometimes if I am not paying attention, I miss them only realizing that it happened because of the bliss wave after.

If I observed the touch of breath on the nostrils for example and was aware of the anicca charactersitic of the sensations there, when it ended I would get an anicca door fruition. if I was observing the anatta charactersitic of a phenomena I would get a fruition through that door and the same for the dukkha door.

Initially the cycles occurred quite a lot during the couple of weeks after it happened maybe 5 to 20 per day and sometimes more. Now they are slow moving and sometimes I don't get a fruition for days. I think this maybe because I am passed the review phase and moving to the next path. But I can call up a fruition through the ways i described above which seem independent of a cycle. There seem to be cycles within cycle within cycles and it gets hard to describe.


MCTB 12. Conformity

This is why understanding things just as they are is so important. This stage lasts only one moment and never arises again until one attains the next stage of enlightenment. The same is true of the next two stages. Stages twelve to fourteen (Conformity, Change of Lineage, and Path) also share the fact that they represent the three moments of the first entrance to transcendent ultimate reality (stage fifteen, Fruition) through one of the Three Doors. In subsequent attainments of Fruition at that path (during the stage of Review), the three moments before Fruition are not called Conformity, Change of Lineage and Path. These three stages will get extensive treatment in the chapter on The Three Doors.


I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the follow stages up to arharatship ?
Sorry if I'm asking a dumb question, from lack of study.
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Nikolai , modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 9:11 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 9:11 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi neem,

Fruitions/cessation moments only occur post-path, that is AFTER stream entry has been attained. The "special" fruitions/cessation moments that do the damage so to speak and correspond to the first 3 stages of awakening, are more or less the same experience or rather non-experience to the fruitions which occur at the end of any insight cycle within a path. One can also learn to call up fruitions when one wants. Arahatship seems to not occur with a special fruitions but more of a shifting in viewpoint. There are really only 3 path moments. I call these "special" fruitions as they change your brain, whereas the other fruitions which I believe are the fruit (phala) of a path are just a bonus to having sat on your butt long enough and "popped".

Nick
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Florian, modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 10:33 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 10:25 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
neem nyima:
I ask that because it seems (just reading the threads here and in KFD) that before Stream Entry a lot of things could go unnoticed (lower nanas 1-3, A&P Event, even Fruitions).

I'm confused, I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the follow stages up to arharatship ? Someone else said something along the line of what your saying, Could someone clarify.


That's a good question, and an important point.

The emphasis on maps and models and phenomenology (i.e. bare description of experience) here at DhO can make it seem that stream-entry is an experience, and fruition is an experience, perhaps even a visual one, given the graphic descriptions of the three doors in MCTB.

The skillful way to use the maps and models and phenomenology is to set good solid standards, to give one an impression of what is possible, and so on.

The unskillful way to use them is to shoehorn one's own experience onto the descriptions, maps, and models; to expect a flashy experience as some kind of confirmation that insight is gained, in short, to mistake (once again) content (of experience) for ultimate wisdom.

In short, my above rant can be condensed into something Duncan Barford pointed out to me:Fruitions are primarily insight-producing, not experience-producing. Or, liberation is not to be found in the specific details of experience, even a highly refined experience such as the three doors.

To me, as someone who entered the stream during daily life, with very few very short self-led retreats, and being very careful (to the point of refusing to admit the obvious for quite some time) not to script myself into some experience, the following explains the "not-noticing-fruitions" part adequately:
  • clarity - I think it is possible to have a fruition and enter the stream, yet not have enough clarity to notice that, or have one's attention bound up in the wrong place, trying to notice wild imagery about the three doors etc. Clarity is different from concentration and mindfulness, or could be viewed as a combination of the two. Buying into expectations, not being mindful of the expectations, will cloud clarity, which is why noting technique is so great, because noting "expectation" brings more clarity than being aware somehow of expectation.
  • license - Tarin remarked in the "Doing it vs. getting it done" Hurricane Ranch Dharma discussion how to him, the license became available after stream entry. To me, it was very similar, as I was for such a long time reluctant to acknowledge what had happened (i.e. fruition) and only after I got through that, and giving myself license to yes, having attained, and with the strong assumption that what I had experienced was indeed fruition, I was able to re-experience it. This is different from the model which says, basically "first fruition = stream moment", and more in line with the traditional Theravada model which says, "no longer fettered by doubt" (and other fetters).
  • retreat conditions vs. less intensive practice - Even in the suttas, there are different models of stream entry, the criteria given for laymen seem more soft and can be (and were, by me, previously) interpreted as indulgences for wealthy laypeople, who would then presumably support the monastics more generously. But now, I'm convinced that stream entry can present in wildly different ways; depending on tradition, intensity of practice, and other factors such as expectations and so on.


All of this is not intended as a way to water down the high standards in MCTB, but as an encourangement to explore one's own experience of the process, instead of exploring the maps and models only.

I hope that was a useful answer to your question.

Cheers,
Florian

P.S. yes, the disappearing act can be noticed, and that non-experience, that seamless gap, is very revealing and profound, and those traditions which go on and on about death in some way, such as Theravada and Christianity, will suddenly not appear so morbid and weird any more. But that is just the way experience presents itself: the increased wisdom isn't suddenly there doing antics, it's more or less gradually discovered in the subsequent period. It's there in the maps, where it looks like an after-thought, yet it's the most important and least discussed part, in my opinion.
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 11:11 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 11:11 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
...Even in the suttas, there are different models of stream entry, the criteria given for laymen seem more soft and can be (and were, by me, previously) interpreted as indulgences for wealthy laypeople, who would then presumably support the monastics more generously. ...


This is interesting, I've not come across any suttas (in my limited readings) that described stream entry or criteria for stream entry. Can you please mention what suttas you are referring to here?

Thanks!
Eran.
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Florian, modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 1:27 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 1:27 PM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Eran,

Chapter 55 of the Samyutta Nikaya is about Stream Entry. English translations of some of the suttas are on-line at Access to Insight: Sotapatti Samyutta - Stream Entry

If you know German, almost complete translations (missing only a few "discardable" ones) are on-line here: Sotapatti Samyutta (German)

But you can also find criteria for stream-entry (fetter model) in such places as M.118 Anapanasati Sutta - Mindfulness of Breathing

Cheers,
Florian
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 2:00 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 2:00 PM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Florian, that'll make for some great reading!
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Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 5/5/11 11:33 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/30/10 9:15 PM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
Thank you Nikolai S.Halay.
The "special" fruitions/cessation moments that do the damage so to speak and correspond to the first 3 stages of awakening, are more or less the same experience or rather non-experience to the fruitions which occur at the end of any insight cycle within a path.

So in these post fruition fruitions i.e. not special ones, do you also pop out, and then come back "are more or less the same experience or rather non-experience" as explained in reference to non-experince.
And also I assume with a more centred connected 'experience'?

Thank you, Florian Weps, beautiful beyond the frame, i appreciate a broader pattern with which, to understand the finger that is pointing at the moon and I integrate within the limited range of my studies. Neem
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Florian, modified 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 1:42 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 1:42 AM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Neem,

I'm glad you got something out of my post. Since it was such a huge hang-up for me, I'll just repeat myself once again:

Don't chase some exotic experience (but note the chasing, and note the experience).

Don't look at the finger pointing at the moon, it's trying to trick you; what you are looking for is in the pointing.

And yes, cessation/fruition is profound, and can be noticed to happen like they say, with sufficiently high clarity. Regardless of whether it's noticed clearly or not so clearly, wisdom/insight/path knowledge arises on stream entry, and that's what matters.

Cheers,
Florian
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Nikolai , modified 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 3:16 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 3:16 PM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
neem nyima:

So in these post fruition fruitions i.e. not special ones, do you also pop out, and then come back "are more or less the same experience or rather non-experience" as explained in reference to non-experince.
And also I assume with a more centered connected 'experience'?




Yeh, they are cessation moments. The exit and entrance are all that is an actual "experience". The cessation part is the "non-experience" part not remembered as consciousness and the senses shut down for that moment. The "special" fruitions in my experience had stronger entrances and exit experiences...more bliss, more rebooting time for the mind, more energy surges etc. The normal ones that are the Phala (fruit) of having gotten a path, are perhaps a little less dramatic and mundane at the entrance and exits in my own experience. However, I assume the cessation moment is more or less the same. I can't really say as I have no memory of them, just the entrance and exit experiences.

Nick
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Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 8:05 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 8:05 PM

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
Getting a clear picture of the whole blip thing good to have confirmation of my basic understanding.
Most importantly wont trick myself into imagining them and will focus on the important stuff, as Florian said
It's what you notice about experience, not the specifics of experience, that makes all the difference. RE: How will understanding Formations get me Stream Entry? 8/31/10


Thanks Nikolai,

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